Blue Force Gear (BFG) is a widely known and highly regarded name in the tactical nylon industry. I’d wager that for the majority, its consistently innovative pouches are considered its most legendary output; whether they’re from the ubiquitous Ten Speed line or the ULTRAcomp range. That’s not to mention the beyond legendary Vickers Combat Applications Sling (VCAS), of course.
BFG does also make innovative platforms and the PLATEminus is one such product – an example of which I’ve had on loan for some time from Tactical Kit. It’s the PLATEminus V4 – a premium plate carrier.
I have to be honest – when I received the PC I assumed it was something of an also-ran. However, it soon became apparent that BFG’s take on the design is somewhat different and noteworthy.
On top of that, it’s one of the most comfortable PC’s I’ve ever worn – despite being of the ‘sandwich board’ variety. Part of that, I think, is to do with how the front plate bag is cut to follow the torso’s pectoral curve; in addition to the Ten Speed elastic section in the cummerbund, which helps the PC move with the user. I’ll highlight both features in my narrative below.
This instance is size medium (for medium plates) and I’m using Travail SAPI cut training plates.
The carrier is low profile, relatively light, and largely composed of BFG’s ULTRAcomp laminate. It features laser cut PALS slots front, rear and sides.
The carrier’s bib exhibits a PALS cut loop velcro field. Shoulders are unpadded and connect to the rear of the carrier via velcro.
The square flanking stuctures on the front of the carrier are side plate bags, smoothly connected by pectoral-following curves (as mentioned earlier).
This shape improves the fit of the carrier over the standard sandwich board design. It was a huge surprise in terms of comfort and long term wearability, that really got me interested in learning more about the carrier.
The rear of the carrier is of a more traditional shape but exhibits many of the same features as the front, such as laser cut PALS slots and high mounted loop velcro field.
The plate bags themselves are composed of Tweave – which is a brand of stretchy softshell fabric, sold in multiple deniers and marketed for tactical applications. It’s perceived as tough and abrasion resistant. It also wicks well and dries fast, in theory.
The main plate bags front and rear are self-contained sheaths: independent of their respective PALS cut faces, which is a nice touch. This means the plates don’t show through the PALS slots on the carrier when in situ.
The base of both main plate bags secures with velcro and is cut with PALS slots.
The side plate bags (not fitted with plates in my example) are, again, envelopes where the plate cannot be seen through the side PALS slots. These have a simple, slip, side opening with the mouth facing forwards.
The carrier’s ride height is easily adjusted via velcro at the shoulders. Here we also see more PALS slots and One Wrap for cable routing etc.
While free of padding, the shoulder straps are very comfortable and spread the load effectively. That said, I believe the torso hugging shape of the carrier and its cummerbund also help with weight bearing, as there is a lot of surface area in contact with the wearer other than at the shoulders. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s all on the shoulders – unlike other lo vis carriers – anyway.
The cummerbund setup is different and interesting.
Rather than the business end for donning and doffing being at the front of the carrier, it’s to the sides.
The side plate bag PALS face lifts upwards to secure the business end of the bund.
Note that the tabs associated with donning and doffing feature BFG’s signature index nodules. These provide a tactile aid to manipulation.
The bund is fully removable but also secures under a flap to the rear of the carrier, where it can be adjusted for length.
The bund features two 556 size Ten Speed cells, which are partially stitched at the base. The voids created in the base allow the transit of water and crud.
The Ten Speed fabric is, of course, elasticated. This means the bund can be worn tightly because it expands and contracts as the user ambulates.
BFG proudly states that this lo vis carrier is scalable and capable of carrying heavier loads, which I’m inclined to believe because it wears so well. That said, I’d recommend reading The Low Profile Madness by RedBeard Tactical for the kind of real world balance I just cannot provide as an amateur reviewer.
The PLATEminus V4 sure is discrete though, as can be seen (or not) in the following pics.
I didn’t get a pic from the rear, but there was some imprinting visible on that side – although presumably not enough to draw too much attention.
The PLATEminus is proof positive that lo vis doesn’t have to mean discomfort. It’s more comfortable than many plush implementations and shows that clever design can trump spacer mesh and bulky padding.
Lastly, as it’s BFG, the quality is right up there. The carrier is well cut and sewn and the materials are quality.
The PLATEminus V4 is available from Tactical Kit.